FirstSchool partners with school communities to focus on improving PreK-3rd grade school experiences for African American, Latino and low-income children and their families. The FirstSchool team provides research expertise and professional development support in collaboration with districts, schools, administrators, and teachers.  Read more about our work here and explore our site to access related resources!

Making the Case for PreK-3

FirstSchool's focus on improving PreK-3 experiences for African American, Latino, & low-income children stems from an accumulation of evidence that the early elementary years are crucial to children's development and learning trajectory. 

Reinvigorating Professionalism

FirstSchool collaborates with educators to examine their practice and engage them in inquiry.  Teachers deserve to work within environments that support their own learning and professional growth, just as we would expect teachers to provide positive learning environments for their students.  We also encourage schools to utilize teachers' expertise by involving them in decisions about policy and program implementation.

A Culture of Collaborative Inquiry

We believe that while the effective use of data is at the center of improving school for African American, Latino, and low-income students, teachers need more guidance in this area. Making a shift towards a more productive, positive culture of collaborative inquiry means using data to drive continuous improvement in ways that are more formative than evaluative.   

Improving Curriculum & Instruction

After designing high-quality curriculum that is aligned, balanced, integrated, relevant, and developmental, the natural next step is to make closely related decisions about how it will be delivered.  We have organized thinking about instruction around developing cultures of caring, competence, and excellence

Strengthening Home-School Partnerships

FirstSchool partners with school communities as they work to develop more respectful, inclusive, and effective home-school partnerships.  Check our our new guide to exploring families' beliefs and practices, so families' knowledge about their children can be better integrated into their school's curriculum and instruction! 

Advocating for African American, Latino, and Low-Income Children

Our ultimate goal is to improve the school experiences of African American, Latino, and low-income children and their families.  Our focus is on helping schools change to better meet the learning, cultural, and language needs of the children in their classrooms.

FirstSchool Online Resource Library

The Online Resource Library provides articles, tools, and videos that relate to the FirstSchool appoach.  As we collaborate with educators and leaders to improve PreK-3rd grade school experiences for African American, Latino, and low-income children, we hope that these tools will complement our in-person professional development sessions and allow educators to access electronic copies of materials that we frequently reference or utilize.  They also pair nicely with the material in our book, FirstSchool: Transforming PreK-3rd Grade for African American, Latino, and Low-Income Children.


Dr. Sharon Ritchie, FirstSchool Director